There have been times in the past few games when number 25 for the Giants has made a play in the secondary and celebrated on the field. There have also been a few times when number 25 has been beaten by opposing receivers for big plays.
Which begs the question: Who the heck is number 25?
It’s Brandon Dixon, who has become a starting cornerback for the Giants at a position that has faced turmoil and injury throughout the entire season.
Dixon, who had not played an NFL snap since 2014 before this past month.
Dixon, who had spent time with seven other teams — five of them on the practice squad only — before signing with the Giants.
Dixon, who is enjoying his opportunity to be on the field whether he’s making plays or getting toasted.
“When I got on the active roster I knew that I had to make some plays and stand out on film,” he said. “And I knew that I had to bring enthusiasm to the game, play with a lot of energy. So that’s what I did. We’re having a down season so I knew I had to be a spark to this defense and that’s what I did.”
Dixon will start his third game on Sunday, having stepped in to replace Eli Apple in the lineup and now when Apple is suspended.
“I think he’s an ultimate competitor, and I think he’s had some real valuable snaps for us,” interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “Now he struggled a couple times last week (against Larry Fitzgerald), but that’s going to happen to every corner. There are a couple of things I think I could have done in the game plan better to help him. But I’ve been impressed with him.”
Dixon was originally drafted by the Jets and played four games for the Bucs in 2014. He’s has had a long journey to this point. In 2015 he spent three days as a member of the Seahawks’ practice squad before he was cut. Then he spent four days with the Colts before he met the same fate.
“Man, it was crazy,” Dixon said. “I was talking to my agent like ‘Dang, why’d they do that?’ He was like ‘It’s all the business. Never get your feelings caught up in the business.’ They kept me moving. And I liked that because going through those turns, going through adversity, you know who is for you and who is not. I kind of distanced myself from everybody (who was negative) and I know the real people in my corner who stayed with me throughout the entire process are people who I need to surround myself with. So that’s what I did.”
He was also with the Patriots and Saints practice squads in 2015, then with the Steelers practice squad late last season. He spent the preseason with Pittsburgh and was signed to the Giants’ practice squad in October.
On Nov. 28 he was added to the active roster. It was a mostly unnoticed move at the bottom of the depth chart, until Dixon started making plays. And then celebrating them by waving his arms wildly, dancing, and otherwise enthusing accomplishments that for most players would be considered routine.
“Most of the guys call me the goofiest guy in the DB room,” he said. “But I’m just acting like myself. I just get excited because I know how it is to be out on the streets. I know it’s a blessing for me to be here. I know how tough it can be for guys. I try to be a spark. I want guys to know my story and I want them to see me out there having fun and not taking it for granted.”
He’ll be doing that again on Sunday. Maybe for the last time as a Giant. Maybe for the last time in the NFL. He doesn’t know. But he’ll enjoy it.
He was signed to the active roster by the Giants shortly after they were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention and has not been part of a win for the team. No matter.
“I think we all would love to be in a better situation and be going to the playoffs, but it’s still the best,” he said of this experience. “It’s been tough, but I just look at everything as a blessing. It could be worse. I could be home, you know? So it’s been great for me.”